The average man on the street would most likely recognize Jimmy Dean from the line of smoked sausage that bears his name, but prior to entering the pork products business, Dean was a successful television personality and a country hitmaker noted for his half-spoken narrative songs. Dean was born near Plainview, TX in 1928 and grew up poor, often working on farms as a boy to help make ends meet. His mother taught him piano starting at age ten, and he went on to pick up guitar, harmonica, and accordion. He joined the Merchant Marines at age 16, and after two years he enlisted in the Air Force, where he first performed publicly with a band called the Tennessee Haymakers. The Haymakers played venues near the Washington, D.C., base at which Dean was stationed, and when he left the service in 1948, he remained in the area and formed a new group called the Texas Wildcats. He eventually scored a record deal with Four Star, and his first hit, "Bummin' Around," reached the country Top Ten in 1953.